Louisiana : Safety by City
- Baton Rouge
- Bossier City
- Lake Charles
- New Iberia
- New Orleans
If you’ve ever enjoyed a bottle of Coca-Cola, you can thank Monroe, Louisiana, and the family that helped put the city on the map.
This northern Louisiana city sits on the Ouachita River with West Monroe across the bridge.
They are separate cities, with each having its own law enforcement and city leadership, but they share tourist attractions and Louisiana culture.
Monroe is about 100 miles east of Shreveport.
Monroe is home to fewer than 50,000 people and offers small-town charm with modem amenities and some historical attractions, with a Duck Dynasty tour mixed in to balance it all out.
There’s also a plethora of wilderness activities as the surrounding area is rural and full of adventures.
You can still explore swamps even though you’re several hours from the coast.
Antique lovers will find a whole section of town for browsing, and animal lovers can meet more than 500 species at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo.
There’s a lot to do here, but a lot of safety information we need to discuss.
Warnings & Dangers in Monroe
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
Monroe has a high risk, and that's not a designation we give lightly. Violent crime rates are nearly seven times the national average, and violent crime reduction strategies in this city are being worked on at the federal level and in the state legislature. While most of the crime is among people who know each other, there's enough of it that a visitor here should be aware of the ongoing problem.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Monroe Transit offers a local bus system with 10 routes throughout the city. You can review the ETA Sort Bus Tracker to learn more about those routes. Taxis and rideshares are available, but you'll likely feel safer having your own vehicle here.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Four pickpockets and purse snatching were reported in 2021, but the overall theft rate is three times the national average. It's especially important not to leave personal items in your vehicle.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Monroe is at risk of severe thunderstorms and tornados, with an elevated flash flooding risk. During hurricane seasons, from June through November, the storms can work their way up the inland areas of the state with strong winds and spawn severe storms. Don't think just because you're in the northern part of the state, you won't face tropical risks.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
The robbery rate is almost four times the national average here. 47% of those robberies were in homes, while the remaining 52% were in public spaces or businesses. Treat this as a high risk, and use extra caution if you're out at night. Avoid any person or situation that feels suspicious and stay out of trouble.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
You won't have to worry about international terrorism in Monroe, as the real terrorists are the criminals roaming the streets locally. It is smart to check the Department of Homeland Security Alert Status before your visit to learn about any risks or threats in the U.S.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
While there aren't any prominent tourist scams as of late 2022, this is a poor community, with 36% living in poverty. That can drive people to more fraudulent acts out of desperation. You can use a new Scam Tracker tool from the Better Business Bureau to search for scams, report suspicious activity in Northern Louisiana, or search for nationwide scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women actually have a slightly higher risk than men of being violent crime victims. While most female victims are involved in domestic situations, there's still enough of a concern to use an elevated risk when visiting Monroe. Don't walk around at night, even if you're with a friend. Stay on the main streets and don't go to private house parties, as homes are where most crimes happen.
TAP WATER RISK : MEDIUM
Greater Ouachita Water Company offers water quality reports for each region in the parish. For Monroe, there are two - North and South Monroe. The South Monroe report shows full compliance and no violations. The North Monroe report shows SIX VIOLATIONS ending in October 2021. This was due to chlorination byproducts that are regulated due to a lifetime of exposure to health risks. There is a low risk when exposed to small amounts, but it's enough of a concern that you might want to drink bottled water and just use tap water for bathing. If your hotel has water filters, that will also clear up any concerns. The water utility has faced complaints of the water having a foul smell at times. The explanation was that the smell came from the bayou source, and while it smelled bad, it wasn't dangerous.
Safest Places to Visit in Monroe
Monroe-WestMonroe.org is the official tourism site for this region.
Keep in mind that when you visit a tourism site, you’ll get great information about attractions and events, but you won’t get crime updates or risks.
Use this as a tool to find safe and family-friendly places to visit, but the law enforcement and emergency management sites will help balance out the real risks in the area.
The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens is one of the best places to visit in town, and you get several attractions in one place.
Joseph Biedenharn was the first bottler of Coca-Cola and moved to Monroe shortly after creating this industry-changing invention.
This museum is a testament to his life’s work and his family’s hobbies.
- Coke Museum: A real “soda jerk” takes you on a tour, and then a nickel will get you a bottled Coke!
- Bible Museum: Biedenharn’s daughter collected bibles, which are now on display, including one from the 1400s.
- Elsong Gardens: You’ll find gardens among gardens here with different styles created by Miss Biedenharn.
- Historic Home Tour: Walk through the Biedenharn home furnished with antiques and furniture as they were when the home was built.
The Chennault Aviation & Military Museum is actually what’s left of the nation’s largest military navigation school.
The museum house military artifacts and memoirs from World War I through Operation Iraqi Freedom.
At the Masur Museum of Art, you can explore galleries full of local and regional art with traveling exhibits mixed in throughout the year.
Events and activities are planned throughout the year, so check the schedule during your visit.
Get wild at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo.
I love this trend of a zoo having much more than just animals and exhibits because it gives a safe adventure for a family with something for everyone.
Here you also have a Children’s Zoo, Safari Boat Ride, a summer splash pad, and a memorial that is so special I’m actually writing this through watery eyes.
Look for the elephant monument to learn the story.
Fans of the hit show Duck Dynasty won’t want to miss one of the newest attractions in this region.
Duck Commander The Tour is open in West Monroe.
There are 15 family-friendly galleries to explore with a virtual duck hunt with the show’s stars along the way.
Black Bayou Lake National Wildfire Refuge is within the city limits, meaning you don’t have to drive far to get into the wilderness.
Hiking, fishing, kayaking, birding, and hunting await in this 5300-acre slice of unique Louisiana land.
Places to Avoid in Monroe
The city’s north side is considered the safest, whereas south of I-20 is more dangerous.
You should avoid the neighborhoods in this community and stick to the main streets and highways.
If you are choosing a hotel, choose one north of I-20.
While most of the hotels are along I-20, finding a place to stay in the northern part of town would be ideal.
West Monroe and Monroe both have very high crime rates, so one side of the metro area isn’t necessarily safer than the other.
Another factor to consider is that both Monroe and West Monroe have industrial and water treatment plants that can emit strong odors at certain times of the year.
Depending on the season and weather, it might be irritating or even gag-reflex inducing.
Choosing a hotel far away from the river would get you farther away from the smell.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Monroe
- You should stay on top of Monroe’s latest crime news, as hot crime spots can change each month or so. You can follow the Monroe Police Department on Facebook @MediaMPD or read the news releases on the department’s website.
- If you notice suspicious activity or learn information about a crime during your visit, please share it with law enforcement. In this community, neighbors aren’t as willing to come forward for fear of retaliation or a desire to handle issues themselves. You can report crimes to the Monroe Police Department at (318) 329-2600 or Crime Stoppers of North Delta at (318) 388-CASH (2274)
- When criminal activity, severe weather, or civil emergencies happen, the police might issue a “Shelter-In-Place” warning. This means you should stay inside, away from windows, in a safe location – like a closet or bathroom. Wait until the all-clear before you leave your location.
- Alligators do live this far north in Louisiana. If you see a body of water, even a small retention pond, assume there is an alligator in it. While they aren’t aggressive toward humans, they aren’t scared of them either. As it was first explained to me when I moved to an alligator area, “Humans are a bit too big to hunt, but they’ll nip at an arm or leg in the water.” The wildlife department will remove only nuisance alligators, meaning the animal has to be violent or threatening.
- Anglers will need a fishing permit in this region. Since there’s only freshwater here, you can choose the freshwater license. If you plan to head to the coast, you’ll need a saltwater or combo license. The Department of Wildlife and Hatcheries oversees the licenses. You can buy one online or at a local sporting good stores. The price is the same at either location.
- You’ll want to use bug spray here with DEET as an ingredient. The humid and warm air here makes a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. You can also wear a citrus-based perfume or cologne to help ward off the insects. If you are going into the wilderness, re-apply bug spray often. Mosquitos can carry West Nile Virus and leave painful, itchy sting marks.
- Getting a license to hunt here requires extensive training. It’s not as easy as applying for a license. You should review the rules on the wildlife department website, but international travelers might not have the time to go through the mandatory training.
- If you see anyone poaching in the nature areas, please call the wildlife department at 1-800-442-2511. You can also use the Tip411 app to report any suspicious activity. Cash rewards are available for legitimate tips that lead to an arrest.
- Mobile phone service could be spotty in parts of this region. Bringing a hot spot will help keep you connected, but you should also bring paper maps in case you get lost. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Monroe is a common city name in America, so add “Louisiana” to your search query when you do research. You can also look up Ouachita Parish, which is a more unique name.
So... How Safe Is Monroe Really?
Monroe and West Monroe are among Louisiana cities facing a trifecta of violent crime issues.
- Gun crimes are increasing at exponential rates.
- More juvenile offenders committing crimes and being released due to juvenile crime laws.
- Not enough repeat offenders are put in jail or jailed long enough due to overwhelmed courts and a lack of harsh crime laws.
Add on top of that the high poverty rate and an annual household income that is near the poverty line anyway, and you’ve got people desperate for help and turning to a life of crime to support families or make ends meet.
There are also gangs in this area that recruit juvenile offenders to commit crimes since the penalties for juvenile crime aren’t as severe.
As part of Project Safe Neighborhood, law enforcement from the local level up to the federal level are getting involved specifically in Monroe’s crime rates.
“The goal of Project Safe Neighborhoods is to provide safe neighborhoods in Monroe and surrounding communities where people can safely live, work and raise their families,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown.
“We will continue to work closely with other law enforcement agencies to make that happen by removing some of the most violent and dangerous offenders from our streets.
This is not something new for us, but instead a renewed effort to address the violent crime in the Monroe area to rid our communities of those bad apples.
Illegally carrying a loaded gun and threatening those around you is not acceptable behavior and can result in the loss of innocent lives.
Our message to those who participate in these bad acts is that threatening the safety of innocent people will not be tolerated, and we are committed to boosting our coordinated efforts to rid the streets of this type of crime.”
Then there’s the drug problem, which is two-pronged.
- An increase in drug crimes on the streets of Monroe feeding an opioid addiction crippling America.
- The advent of illegal prescription drugs laced with Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, which can lead to overdoses because the person taking the drug has no idea Fentanyl is in the drug.
In December 2022, there was a 72-hour period where four people died from drug overdoses.
This indicates that a fentanyl-laced batch of drugs is being distributed.
The presence of drugs even led to the death of a two-year-old boy who ate one of the pills his mom dropped.
“Pills that appear to be a Xanax bar or a pain pill, like hydrocodone or oxycontin, are really pressed fentanyl,” Jay Ellerman, the Commander of the Ouachita Metro Narcotics Unit, said.
The only upside for tourists here is that just 6% of violent crimes happened against strangers in 2021.
If you use all the safety precautions we’ve talked about and stay out of trouble (or don’t go looking for trouble), you’ll have a safer visit.
However, there’s enough crime here that you should be aware of it, as you might hear gunshots or fighting while you’re there.
It’s going to be several years before there is any hope Monroe can get a grasp on this crime problem.
If you’re just looking for a place to visit in Louisiana, I’d recommend finding another location.
We have a full list of city safety reviews on this website.
For those who are visiting Monroe, just use a lot of caution and stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
How Does Monroe Compare?
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- Visas - International visitors will need a U.S. Travel or Work Visa issued by the U.S. State Department. The process can be cumbersome, so start planning several months ahead of time. You should also check on the department's website to see if your home country qualifies for a Visa Waiver.
- Currency - You'll only be able to use the U.S. Dollar currency here. Limit the amount of cash you carry and try to make purchases with one credit card so that you can monitor charges. Don't use public ATMs, especially at night.
- Weather - Northern Louisiana gets more variety in the weather, meaning winters can be colder. Spring and fall will bring fluctuating temperatures, and summers will be hot. One thing that won't change is the higher humidity levels, which can increase the "feels like" temperature in the heat. You'll likely sweat a lot, so bring comfortable clothing that you can hand wash if needed. Don't forget bug spray and sunscreen.
- Airports - Monroe Regional Airport is just six miles from downtown and offers flights through Delta and American Airlines with routes to Dallas and Atlanta. The Shreveport airport is a little bigger, but it's a 90 minutes drive west.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a smart idea to protect your investment, especially when traveling internationally. You should also know what coverage you have on a rental car in case of severe weather damage since this area is prone to storms.
Monroe Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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